At home in that 'gay bathing place'; or, representing Brighton in the early nineteenth century
Historians have established late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Brighton’s role in the urban renaissance by tracking its emergence as a centre of fashion, polite sociability, and consumerism. Other versions of the town, such as domestic experiences and home life, have, however, been neglected. Yet in the early nineteenth century, contemporaries increasingly present a version of Brighton that is domestic and retired instead of public; polite instead of fashionable; rational instead of dissipated; intimate rather than crowded; more country and nature-orientated than urban focused. This article explores how Elizabeth Sandham’s didactic novel, Sketches of Young People; or, a Journey to Brighton (1822), negotiates this transition. It moreover argues for the empowering possibilities that this new Brighton offers middle-class women in terms of satisfying intellectual curiosity and facilitating physical mobility. While Brighton’s history has been explored, this article calls for future work into the cultural, including literary, representations of romantic-period Brighton.
Copyright: The authors and Aarhus University Press